Friday, January 24, 2014

Movie with Abe: Gloria

Directed by Sebastián Lelio
Released January 24, 2014

When a film bears a character’s first name as its title, it’s obvious that it is, above all else, that person’s story. Whether or not the protagonist is a real person is irrelevant, though their status as a historical figure or political leader often helps to explain without much effort why they are worthy of being the subject of a film. In the case of “Gloria,” Chilean actress Paulina Garcia does her best to argue that middle-aged divorcée Gloria deserves to have her story told. While the film isn’t always enthralling, its central character most certainly is.

Gloria is, put simply, a free spirit. Divorced from the father of her children for over a decade, Gloria goes out each night and laughs, dances, and drinks in the hopes of having an enjoyable evening out. She sings along with music at almost every juncture when it is being played, be it at home, in the car, or out in public. She yearns to see her adult children more, and though she wants to find a new man to share her life with, she is relatively content on her own, and more than capable of taking care of herself.

Gloria’s first meeting with Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández) one night begins an occasionally endearing mature love affair that finds Gloria being charmed by a man who seems, at the outset, charming. When he fails to live up to certain acceptable standards of behavior, Gloria is not sure how to respond, since her life is not lived confrontationally. That personality trait makes Gloria a great lead character, though her story isn’t always as competent as her. It follows her life through a series of connected events, but there’s no discernable beginning, middle, or end to her story.

The one thing that is undeniably consistent throughout “Gloria” is the talent of its lead actress. Garcia has been rewarded already be a few film festivals and other organizations for her work, deservedly so. Through large glasses and a nervous smile, Garcia injects life and energy into Gloria and her film, making her a sweet, timid, sympathetic protagonist. The other actors in the film provide able support, but ultimately, “Gloria” is all about the portrayer of the title character and how she manages to create and sustain this marvelously optimistic, soulful woman and make her life feel utterly interesting.


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